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Recent Additions to the Collection - Fall 2010

Daniel R. Coquillette Rare Book Room

The Boston College Law Library is delighted to display a selection of its recent acquisitions. These books, manuscripts and memorabilia enhance our holdings in key areas and enable us to better understand the way law was published, acquired, studied and practiced in England and America in centuries past.

We are grateful to Karen S. Breda, Daniel R. Coquillette and Michael H. Hoeflich, who donated some of the works on view. Others were purchased to strengthen the library’s collection of works likely to have been owned by working English and American lawyers who lived during the fifteenth through nineteenth centuries, or purchased to enhance gifts of materials donated to the library in recent years.

Highlights of this year’s exhibit include a selection of early English law dictionaries, a stunning group of lawyers’ private library lists, signed modern first editions from contemporary political figures, and some unusual memorabilia connected to the legal publishing industry in late nineteenth-century North America.

Below are a few images from the exhibit. A handout describing the entire exhibit is available here. More images are available on the Rare Book Room’s flickr site and on our blog.

The exhibit was curated by Karen Beck, Curator of Rare Books / Collection Development Librarian. It will be on view through early December 2010.

JOHN COWELL, THE INTERPRETER OF WORDS AND TERMS. 6th Ed. London, 1701.

Without a doubt, Cowell’s INTERPRETER is the most famous, and infamous, of the English law dictionaries. It appeared in eight editions from 1607 to 1727; this copy is from the sixth edition. We also own copies of the first (1607), seventh (1708) and eighth (1727) editions.

The first edition ignited a scandal and was banned by King James in 1610. Very briefly, Cowell got into trouble for several of his definitions, especially "King," "Parliament," "Prerogative," and "Subsidy." Cowell seemed to favor an absolute monarch who was above the common law. This infuriated Chief Justice Edward Coke and Parliament. Though he secretly agreed with Cowell's definitions, James tried to placate Coke and Parliament by suppressing the book. Though banned for a time, not all copies of the first edition were destroyed, and the INTERPRETER eventually came to be considered the best law dictionary until Giles Jacob’s appeared in 1729.

Our copy contains extensive annotations from an early owner, Samuel Burton, who inscribed the book in 1704. On the pages shown here, Burton added a chronological list of England's Kings and Queens opposite the title page. He also compiled lists of "Words omitted in this Law Dictionary" and ancient English surnames elsewhere in the volume. This copy is a stellar example of how owners used their books and made them their own.

Gift of Daniel R. Coquillette

Interpreter of Words and Terms Title Page   List of Words Omitted in this Law Dictionary  List of Kings and Queens
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THE GILES JACOB COLLECTION

In 2005, our dear friend the late Kathryn “Kitty” Preyer bequeathed her magnificent collection of rare law books to the Law School. Among the many treasures in the gift were a number of books by Giles Jacob – one of her favorite research subjects. In the years since Kitty’s passing, we have strengthened our collection of Jacob’s works by purchasing important titles and editions as they have become available, including the work featured here.

GILES JACOB, THE GRAND PRECEDENT: OR, THE CONVEYANCER’S GUIDE AND ASSISTANT. 1st ed. London, 1716.

Jacob wrote this book to provide a model for legal draftsmen who needed to write deeds, wills and other conveyances. Unlike most of Jacob’s works, this one appeared in only a single edition.

Our copy features a handsome full leather binding, with blind and gold ornamental tooling and an armorial crest stamped on the front and back covers. An early owner, Alexander Johnson, inscribed his name on the title page. Johnson or another early owner wrote extensive notes in the margins of the text.

 Giles Jacob Grand Precedent Book Cover                Giles Jacob Grand Precedent Title Page

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AMERICAN LAWYERS AND THEIR LAW BOOKS

For some time, the law library has focused its rare book and manuscript collecting efforts on materials that help us understand the daily life of lawyers in centuries past: how they learned, practiced and thought about the law. Key to this inquiry is an understanding of lawyers’ private law libraries: What books did they own? Several acquisitions this year help us answer this question a little more fully, including the example shown here.

JOSEPH GROWDON, JR., CATALOGUE OF BOOKS BELONGING TO THE ESTATE LATE OF JOSEPH GROWDON ESQ. Philadelphia, 1738.

This handsome inventory of the law books belonging to Joseph Growdon, Jr. (d. 1738) is one of our most exciting acquisitions this year. It is a unique, completely handwritten document listing the books belonging to a wealthy lawyer and landowner from colonial Pennsylvania. Growdon owned a well-rounded library with more than 250 titles, including 60 reporters and numerous treatises, making his library one of the strongest in colonial America. Until very recently, the inventory was assumed to be lost. We are glad it surfaced, and that we can share it here.

 Growdon Catalog Page        Growdon Catalog page
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THE (OCCASIONALLY) AMUSING WORLD OF NINETEENTH-CENTURY LEGAL PUBLISHING

ADVERTISING BROCHURE, THE AMERICAN AND ENGLISH ENCYCLOPAEDIA OF LAW. Long Island, NY, 1896.

First prize for amusing and resourceful legal publishing ads surely should go to the Edward Thompson Company of Long Island, New York. A few years ago we acquired the sheet music for a "Pleading and Practice Grand March," which commemorated the publication of the company’s new ENCYCLOPAEDIA OF PLEADING AND PRACTICE.

That same year, the company came out with the eight-page ad brochure shown here. It heralds the arrival of the AMERICAN AND ENGLISH ENCYCLOPAEDIA OF LAW, “The Most Wonderful Law Book of the XIX Century,” and boasts (outrageously) that “if all other Law Books should be destroyed, the world would have lost but little of its legal information.” The rest of the brochure is taken up with a list of subjects covered in Volumes 20 and 21, “Receivers” through “Sentence,” and making cost-benefit comparisons with leading treatises of the day.

The ENCYCLOPAEDIA was sold only by subscription, at a cost of $6 per volume. It eventually comprised 31 volumes. Though little known today, it remains in the collections of many large libraries throughout the United States.

 American and English Encyclopaedia of Law     Ad for Encyclopaedia
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THE WHITE HOUSE AND BOSTON COLLEGE

The furnishings in the Daniel R. Coquillette Rare Book Room have a colorful and storied past. The tall clock, for example, once resided at the base of the staircase in Barat House – currently the site of the Law School’s Office of Institutional Advancement. Years ago, the house belonged to the Schrafft family, of candymaking fame.

The room’s marble mantelpiece and gilt mirror lived in the East Room of the White House from 1912 until 1953, when President Truman renovated the space. At that time, Rep. John McCormack and Rev. William J. Kenealy, S.J., Dean of the Law School, persuaded the President that the items should go to BC.

Since then, the mantel and mirror have traveled all over Boston College together. They appeared in several of the Law School’s former locations before finding their permanent home here in the Daniel R. Coquillette Rare Book Room.

WILLIAM SEALE, THE WHITE HOUSE: THE HISTORY OF AN AMERICAN IDEA. Washington, DC, 1992.

This book includes a photograph of the mantelpiece and gilt mirror in their original location in the East Room of the White House. Before arriving at Boston College the mirror was much taller than in its present state; it had to be cut down to fit into BC’s smaller spaces. The beautifully detailed white-enameled paneling shown here in the East Room was recreated in the Daniel R. Coquillette Rare Book Room, which opened its doors in 1996 as part of the law library’s most recent renovation.

 White House East Room mantelpiece and mirror
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POSTCARD, BOSTON COLLEGE LAW SCHOOL. Undated.

This postcard shows the mirror and mantel in one of their earliest BC homes: the Vincent P. Roberts Room at the BC Law School. Though undated, this photograph was likely taken in the early to mid-1950s, when the Law School was located in downtown Boston.

Mirror and Mantel at BCLS in 1950s
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This modern-day photograph shows the mirror and mantel in its current home in the Daniel R. Coquillette Rare Book Room. It was taken by law library staff member Jason Liu.

 Daniel R. Coquillette Rare Book Room
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